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Multi-Vehicle Crash on I-84 in Hartford


A multi-vehicle crash on Interstate 84 East by exit 49 in Hartford caused major traffic delays on Wednesday afternoon.

Only one lane is getting by, but the congestion has cleared.

No information was immediately available on injuries.


Photo Credit: Department of Transportation Cameras

Charges in Maddy Middleton Death


The Santa Cruz County District Attorney on Wednesday charged a 15-year-old boy with murder and kidnapping in the death of an 8-year-old girl who vanished while riding her scooter near her apartment on Sunday afternoon.

The decision to charge Adrian Jerry Gonzalez as an adult in the death of Madyson "Maddy" Middleton was announced by Jeffrey Rosell at a news conference on the county courthouse steps.

Rosell said he couldn't remember any similar cases in recent history.

Gonzalez is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday. He is being housed at a juvenile detention facility.  Gonzalez, a minor, is being named publicly because he is charged as an adult.

Rosell would not go into the specifics of the case. But he said the charges are: one count of murder that includes special circumstances of lying in wait, kidnap and sexual assault, and other counts related to sexual offenses and kidnapping. The maximum penalty for the crimes is life in prison, Rosell said, as the death penalty is not applicable to minors.

Because of his age, authorities have declined to say whether the teen had a record.

A motive in the case has never been offered.

"People do things things for all sorts of reasons," Rosell said. "Sometimes we understand them and sometimes we don't."

A call to the Santa Cruz County Office of the Public Defender for comment on the case wasn't immediately returned. Gonzalez could be assigned a public defender at an upcoming court appearance.

Attempts to speak to the teen and his mother have not been successful. A woman who appeared to be his mother wailed in front of a bank of TV cameras on Monday night as the boy was led off in a patrol car calmly.

Some neighbors who know the boy, however, said that he is a good kid who comes from a loving family. Even the boyfriend of Maddy's mother, Kirby Scudder, told NBC Bay Area that Gonzalez is a "great kid." Others knew him for throwing a yo-yo around the complex.

On Tuesday, Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel said that Gonzalez “lured” Maddy up to his apartment on Sunday afternoon or evening, and killed her, before carrying her body down to a recycling bin at the apartment complex where both lived. Police didn't find her body until about 8 p.m. Monday.

Vogel also said that evidence, including the girl’s belongings, witness statements and video surveillance, links Gonzalez to Maddy's death. He also said the “suspect went to great lengths” to disguise and conceal the body left in the dumpster.

The 8-year-old's death has left many near and far in shock and disbelief. Santa Cruz residents held a vigil for her on Tuesday night and the Rio Theatre dedicated its marquee to her.

Neighbors at the Tannery Arts Center said they were stunned by the death. The center is a public-private nonprofit that includes 100 affordable loft apartments for artists and their families. About 250 people live in the complex, including about 50 children.

A memorial has been set up in Madyson's honor, overflowing with dozens of bouquets, stuffed animals, balloons, candles and notes.

On Wednesday, a group of girls about Madyson's age were crying at the memorial. One girl was walking Madyson's dog, Lucy.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area/Telemundo
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Sheetrock Residue Prompted Courthouse Evacuation


A powdery substance that prompted the evacuation of the courthouse on Golden Hill Street in Bridgeport on Wednesday turned out to be residue from Sheetrock, according to state police.

State troopers and Bridgeport police responded to the courthouse and the scene was cleared as of 2 p.m. when it was evident that the powder posed no harm.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Pleads Guilty in 'Brutal' East Windsor Rape Case


A convicted sex offender charged in a brutal attack in early March has pleaded guilty to several charges and will be sentenced to 28 years in prison, according to the court clerk's office. 

James Polk was charged with kidnapping and raping the woman after police caught him in the act at about 3 a.m. on March 5 at Power Service Concepts, the East Windsor business he manages.

He has pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree sexual assault and one count each of first-degree kidnapping and first-degree strangulation.

The victim told police "she thought she was going to die," according to the warrant for Polk's arrest.

Police said the two met earlier that night at a club in town, Mardi Gras II, where the woman was a dancer.

According to the warrant, Polk claimed he wanted to hang out with the victim and told her he had marijuana. He brought her to the business in his pickup truck, which was still warm when police arrived, according to the warrant.

The woman told police that once inside, Polk repeatedly beat and raped her at knife-point, strangled her to the point where she couldn't breathe and even called one of his friends, urging him to join in. The friend declined, the warrant says.

The woman managed to call 911 as Polk raped her, according to the warrant. A dispatcher heard "heavy breathing" and a man's voice before the line went dead. She told officers she "had a bad feeling" about the call.

Before police arrived, Polk poured rubbing alcohol over the victim hoping to remove evidence, according to the warrant.

Officers at the scene shattered a window and broke down a locked office door to rescue the victim, who allegedly told police, "He raped me and tried to kill me!"

According to the warrant, Polk refused to surrender and told officers, "You are going to have to shoot me!" He then slit his own throat.

East Windsor Police Det. Matthew Carl said at the time of Polk's arrest that the victim's injuries were "brutal" and described the case as one of the worst he's ever seen.

This was not Polk's first run-in with the law.

Records show he's a convicted sex offender in three states: Connecticut, New Hampshire and Florida.

He is due back in court on Oct. 2 and will be sentenced to 28 years in prison, followed by 12 years of special parole.

Only 4 Northern White Rhinos Left


One of the last five northern white rhinoceroses in the world has died.

Nabiré, a 31-year-old female northern white rhino, died of a ruptured cyst, authorities at the Dvůr Králové Zoo announced. Nabiré's death leaves only three females and one male left of her species.

Because of poaching and habitat loss, northern white rhinos have been on the brink of extinction for years. 

Out of the only three female northern whites left behind, none are able to carry babies due to uterine conditions or being past the reproductive age. 

Lifeguard Lying in Sand on Duty


A Gary, Indiana lifeguard has been fired after she was caught on video lying in the shade while on duty over the weekend.

The three-minute video, which was taken at Marquette Park Beach, was posted to YouTube Saturday and shows a lifeguard lying in the sand below her chair at the beach. The woman is seen still wearing pants and socks in the footage.

“I used to be a lifeguard for five years,” a beachgoer says in the video. “I just want to know why you’re lying down on the job. Aren’t you supposed to be watching the water?”

The woman in the video says she was resting there because it was in the shade.

LaLosa Bent Burns, the director of communications for Gary, told NBC Chicago that the lifeguard’s actions “inexcusable” and said she has been fired.

"It's inexcusable conduct and we addressed the situation as soon as we became aware of it,” he said.  

Armed Robber Hit Berlin Gas Station Twice in a Week: Police


A Shell Gas Station in Berlin was robbed at gunpoint twice in a week and police believe the same person committed both crimes.

A dark-haired man with a gun robbed the Shell Gas Station, at 1376 Berlin Turnpike, at 5:33 p.m. on July 23.

Five days later, on July 28, a man with a similar appearance robbed the gas station at 10:37 a.m.

He is between 35 and 45 years old and 5-feet-8 and 5-feet-10. He was described as stocky, and around 250 pound.

During both robberies, he parked a vehicle in a business to the north of the gas station and ran to and from the vehicle.

During the second robbery, he was in a silver sedan.

Anyone who recognizes the man should call Berlin Police Department at 860-828-7080.

Photo Credit: Berlin Police
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Branford Construction Accident Causes Outages


A construction accident in Branford caused more than 4,100 residents to lose power Wednesday afternoon.

Many remained in the dark into the evening. Police said all power was restored by about 10 p.m., but the repaired system was taxed, so they're encouraging residents to conserve electricity when possible.

Neighborhoods went dark in the area of Kirkham Street, Maple Street and Short Beach Road.

Police said a construction worker damaged a utility pole guide wire on Kirkham Street, causing the pole to break in half.

Kirkham Street has been closed between Main Street and the intersection of Maple Street and Indian Neck Avenue while power company crews work to make repairs.

Since temperatures have approached record highs, the Branford Community Center at 46 Church Street will serve as a cooling center for those without power.

Photo Credit: Branford Police Department

Experts Say Dispatchers Need More Training


 An investigation into the Alburquerque dispatcher who allegedly hung up on a 911 caller has brought up the importance training practices when it comes to important emergency job.

"You have to be the one to provide assistance in a calm, cool and professional way," Chris Carver, an operations director for the National Emergency Number Association, told NBC News.

Dispatchers have to handle difficult situations and it's critical to not become emotionally involved in what's happening on the other end, Carver said. 

While training on policy, technology, and operations is integral for the job, hiring the right people can sometimes be more important than the training, Carver notes.

"The unfortunate truth is that for the vast majority, the amount of training required [for dispatchers] is no where near being close to what you need to cut hair," Carver said. "That requires much more training."

Cecil the Lion's Death May Result in 10 Cubs Killed: Experts


The American dentist who hunted and killed a well-known lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe may have jeopardized the livelihood of 10 cubs in the animal's family, experts told NBC News.

"Because lions have such complicated social lives, when one male from a coalition of males is killed, that can destabilize the whole coalition," said Professor David MacDonald, whose team at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, have been tracking Cecil by GPS since 2008. 

This cascade could lead to "the deaths of his brothers and the overthrow of his weakened coalition, and subsequently the death of his cubs," said MacDonald, who is the founding director of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at the university.

Dispatcher Who Hung Up on 911 Caller Before Friend Died Resigns


An Albuquerque Fire Department dispatcher who allegedly hung up on a distressed 911 caller seeking help as her friend was dying from a gunshot wound has resigned, officials said. 

"Driver Matthew Sanchez tendered his resignation of employment from the Albuquerque Fire Department effective immediately," fire department Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry said in a statement.

Sanchez allegedly hung up on a distraught women who was tending to a 17-year-old who was shot after the woman used explicit language.

"OK, you kow what, ma'am? you can deal with yourself, I'm not going to deal with this, OK?" Sanchez supposedly said before the line disconnects. 

Photo Credit: Courtesy Nicole Chavez

Connecticut Residents React to Tom Brady Suspension


Tom Brady's statement on Facebook this morning that he did nothing to warrant a four-game suspension over the "Deflategate" scandal seems to be uncompromising but even some rabid Patriots fans don't buy it.

Connecticut resident Bill Reardon said the time off is well deserved, however.

"Especially with what just came out regarding the cellphone and destroying any evidence," Reardon said. "It just kind of makes it look more suspicious. I still think he's a dynamite player."

"Tom Brady's a great guy, he's got great poise, great character," said Devin Booth of Old Wethersfield. "I'm seeing no positive proof as to what he's done wrong. It's he says she said and I hope he stands his ground."

He's hoping Tom Brady will appeal the suspension in civil court. But Brady also faces the court of public opinion.

"I think that it's in his best interest to deny this and sort of move past it," said Nakhia Henry, from Newington. "I think he can deal with it. It's quite more than my paycheck so I think he'll be fine."

Segundo Rivera said Brady should sit out for at least a year.

"He cheated, he cheated. He threw the ball for them. He cheated. he cheated. I believe he cheated," Rivera said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Malloy Meets With Hartford North End Residents


Gov. Dannel Malloy answered questions about the recent spike in killings in the capital city while meeting with residents of Hartford's North End on Wednesday to discuss his Second Chance Society initiative Wednesday.

Malloy said the state's recent assistance won't change any time soon.

"We’re sending resources to Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport on an ongoing basis," Malloy said. "We need to support the community. We need to help the community."

On the issue of the Second Chance Society, which eliminates mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenses and created new housing and substance abuses programs for recently released inmates, Malloy said it's on him to help residents comprehend the significance.

"We also need people to understand that we’re in the process of changing things and particularly with this Second Chance Society initiative," the governor said.

He added that now is the time for him to be even more vocal about it.

"If you’re trying to send a message but the person isn’t open to receiving it because at that point because it’s not important to them at that point then your having delivered it once isn’t enough," he said. "You’ve got to be out there."

The issue of violence in Hartford has also dominated the race for mayor.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra has recently provided several reasons for the 19 homicides already in 2015 when there were only 17 during all of last year.

With help from state police investigators, several arrests have been made in connection with multiple killings, according to Segarra.

"We need to make sure that we work together to maintain continuity so that we’re not responding to spikes and that we have joint cooperation," he said.

Segarra was at the same time critical last week when asked why the homicide number had increased year over year. He cited recent releases from a state correctional facility in Hartford, as well as the lack of resources from the state.

According to state records, an argument can be made that Hartford is receiving more help than ever before, with state aid increasing for 2016 and 2017 with consistent aid in 2015. Overall, Hartford will have received more than $750 million from the state during that period.

In addition, there are more parole officers overseeing fewer former inmates. The number of officers has remained steady at 107 over the past five years, while the number of those being supervised has decreased by more than 700.

Segarra said Wednesday that Hartford could still use more help.

"We could always use more resources, and of course, the state has its challenges and we have our challenges and we continue to work strategically," he said.

Luke Bronin, who earlier this week received the Hartford Democratic Town Committee nomination over Segarra, said the mayor's rhetoric hasn't changed the reality and culture of violence that has overcome the city since the beginning of the year.

"We have seen a devastating spike in crime over the past few months, and I think I have been very clear that this is a time for leadership," Bronin said.

He said Hartford has been in a downward cycle since the spring and that needs to change.

"We cannot be a city where when the weather turns warm, violence becomes part of the forecast," Bronin said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

GOP Taps First Hispanic Candidate for Waterbury Mayor


Waterbury mayoral candidate Jose Morales may not have the widest name-recognition, but city Republicans say once Brass City residents get to know him, they will love what he has to say.

"We have so many businesses that are closing," Morales said of the economy in Waterbury. "We have to go back to promote the city."

Morales is a judicial marshal in Hartford but was born and raised near downtown Waterbury. That appeal is what Jason Van Stone, the chairman of the Waterbury Republican Town Committee, believes will resonate with voters.

"He lives all of these problems everyday. He could speak to the people about what he sees his friends and family going through and I think he’s the person who could deliver that message for the Republican Party the best at this time," Van Stone said.

Van Stone and Morales practically brush off the fact that Morales is the first Hispanic candidate for mayor of one Connecticut's biggest cities.

"This isn't about that," Morales said.

Morales said he wants to cut taxes and provide incentives for more stores and businesses to locate to Waterbury as a way to boost job growth and tax receipts.

"The city has to be promoted in a way that people can come into the city and spend money, but right now, the things that are going are not good for the city," Morales said.

Morales is up against Mayor Neil O'Leary, who is running for his second term. He's been mayor since December 2011 and previously served as Waterbury's police chief.

O'Leary received the unanimous endorsement of the Waterbury Democratic Town Committee and said his record will stand on its own.

"I think our fiscal conservative polices have gone a long way to move the city forward, but also in the fact that Waterbury now is very very diversified and I think the political process is important for the city to move forward," he said.

O'Leary said he got to know Morales when the two sat on the Waterbury school board several years ago. He said it's a good thing to have the first Hispanic run for the city's top job.

"I think it's great for the city," O'Leary said. "That should improve involvement in city politics for many residents."

Hartford Mayor Continues Campaign as Part of Slate


Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra announced Wednesday that he will continue his campaign for reelection as part of a slate that includes six candidates for city council.

Other members of the slate include Hartford City Council candidates Ken Kennedy, Kyle Anderson, Giselle Feliciano, James Woulfe, Luwannia Johnson Martin and Edward Casares Jr.

Kennedy and Anderson are current councilmembers and Casares is a former fire chief in Hartford. Feliciano serves as executive assistant to council, according to Segarra's campaign.

Segarra's campaign said the candidates, like the mayor himself, are petitioning for spots on the ballot during September's primary election.

The mayor said during Wednesday's announcement the city of Hartford belongs to the people and that the election will be decided by the general population rather than a select few. He said city residents want to elect his team.

According to his campaign, Segarra decided to join the slate after Monday's nominating convention. The mayor walked out of the convention and the Democratic Party endorsed challenger Luke Bronin.

It's not clear what Segarra, a Democrat, plans to announce in Wednesday's news conference. The event will take place at 5 p.m. Wednesday on the front steps of Hartford City Hall.

Segarra walked out of the Hartford Democratic Town Committee's nominating convention Monday night. Challenger Luke Bronin secured the nomination.

New Doughnut-Ice Cream Hybrid Food Craze: Milky Buns


There's a new food crazy that is kicking Cronuts to the curb: the Milky Bun.

"When [customers] tried the Milky Bun for the first time, that's when the wild fire started," Scott Ngheim, co-found of Afters Ice Cream in Los Angeles, told NBC News. "We did not expect the scale of how large everything went."

Ngheim and his partner Andy Nguyen put a new twist to classic sweets: stuffing homemade ice cream inside a warm glazed doughnut. 

When Ngheim and Nguyen started the ice cream shop, they knew the frozen dessert wouldn't be enough.

"We needed something more in order to get people really excited," said Nguyen. The two said they "tried anything and everything" that could hold ice cream, including shells, waffles and breads.

Photo Credit: Joshua Garcia
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Owner of Danbury Pet Shop Charged With Animal Cruelty


A Danbury pet shop owner is facing animal cruelty charges for failing to properly care for at least three animals, leading to the deaths of two, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Richard F. Doyle, 55, of Mahopac, New York, was arrested Monday after a months-long investigation that began in March when the Connecticut Department of Agriculture received animal cruelty complaints from some of Doyle's employees.

Doyle owns the American Breeders pet shop at 128 Federal Road in Danbury, along with two other pet stores in New York, according to the Department of Agriculture.

One employee told investigators Doyle performed eye surgery on a female Mastiff, which he was not licensed to do, causing severe bleeding on the dog's inner eyelid. Department of Agriculture officials said the employee showed them photos that supported her claims.

Another employee told them she was required to administer medications and shots that she was not licensed to give, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Doyle is also accused of failing to give medical attention to at least two animals that were later euthanized, including a critically ill exotic kitten and a sick Shih Tzu puppy that was vomiting, coughing and having diarrhea.

He was charged with three counts of animal cruelty. Doyle was released on a promise to appear and is due in court Aug. 6.

A store manager, Kathy Seton, will also face animal cruelty charges, according to the Department of Agriculture.

An employee who answered the phone at American Breeders said no one was available to comment on the case Wednesday afternoon.

Hottest Day of the Year


Although just shy of record heat, Wednesday turned out to be the hottest day of the year so far.

The highest temperature recorded in the state was 95 degrees at Bradley International Airport, not quite hot enough to break the record of 96.

Temperatures drop to near 70 degrees tonight, but humidity will make the air feel like the mid-70s. Temperatures will climb again tomorrow and humidity will stick around.

Should tomorrow reach 90 degrees at Bradley, it will mark the first heat wave of the year. Earlier this July, we missed a heat wave when the third day topped out at 89 degrees.

Not only will it be hot tomorrow, but showers and thunderstorms are also in the forecast. Some of the storms can be strong to severe when they move through in the afternoon and early evening.

Several towns and cities have opened cooling centers, and Norwich Public Utilities has issued a power alert encouraging customers to conserve energy as temperatures stay in the 90s.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is warning of unhealthy air quality that could make breathing difficult for "sensitive groups," including elderly residents and children and adults with respiratory illnesses. Ozone pollution is expected in all of Fairfield, New Haven, Middlesex and New London Counties today.

State officials recommend taking the following measures when air pollution levels are high:

  • Conserve electricity by setting air conditioners to 78 degrees.
  • "Wait 'til 8" to use energy intensive appliances like washing machines, dryers and dishwashers
  • Drive less by carpooling or using public transit
  • Telecommute if possible
  • Refuel your vehicle after dusk and never idle a vehicle unnecessarily.

Friday is a splendid end to the work week. Not only will the humidity be gone, but lots of sunshine is expected and it will still be very warm with temperatures well into the 80s.

A pattern change is responsible for the more comfortable conditions that arrive Friday and last several days. The jet stream will sink south and suppress the high heat and humidity to the southeastern United States.

A mix of sun and clouds is anticipated on Saturday. Given the nature of the upper-level flow, there can be an isolated storm later in the day. Temperatures will be in the upper-80s to near 90 degrees.

Sunday looks to be the pick of the weekend at this point, with mostly sunny conditions and temperatures again in the middle-80s to near 90 degrees.

If you are out enjoying the summer weather, send photos to us at shareit@nbcconnecticut.com

Boy Who Asked For Junk Mail Gets Hundreds of Books


Matthew Flores asked his mailman for junk mail to read since he had no books at home or money for a bus fare to the library. 

After the mailman's plea went viral, the 12-year-old boy received hundreds of books.

"A young man was standing here reading junk mail and asked me if I had any extra," Ron Lynch told NBC News.

Flores has a passion for reading and asked Lynch for junk mail so he would have anytime of literature to read.

"I like using my imagination. It's super fun and it's interesting plus it gets you smarter," Flores told NBC News. 

Police Investigating After Woman Pushed From Car in South Windsor


Police are investigating after a woman was allegedly pushed from a moving car on Clark Street in South Windsor late Wednesday morning.

South Windsor police said the woman told them she had jumped because she "didn't feel safe," but wouldn't provide any information about who was driving the car or why she felt unsafe.

Police said they believe the car was driving westbound on Deming Street and turned right onto Clark Street. A passerby found the victim in the road at 10:30 a.m.

Police are asking anyone with information to call Officer Charlie Bowes at 860-644-2551 or call the confidential tip line at 860-648-6226 (NABM).


Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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